After Friday night’s decisive win against the Sacramento Kings, many wondered if that victory would give Memphis confidence and rhythm going into last night’s division showdown against the Houston Rockets. On the other hand, this Grizzlies team has shown so much inconsistency this season, it was hard to know what to expect.
Well, the Grizzlies initially had a slow and sloppy start with several turnovers and lackluster defense. However, they picked up the pace and quickly gained a 12-9 lead.
After it seemed the Grizzlies were starting to get in a rhythm, the Houston Rockets came roaring back and began to catch fire from three. At the half, they had 6 threes. During the first half, Memphis really struggled to defend, and this resulted in them finding themselves in a double digit hole going into the second quarter.
At halftime, Houston had 24 points in the paint to Memphis’ 18. In addition to poor defense, the Grizzlies’ offense appeared very one-dimensional and stagnant. When the Rockets would collapse on Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph, there wasn’t any help from the other Memphis players. Most of the time, everyone stood there watching as the offense collapsed. However, one of Memphis’ saving graces was that they forced 8 turnovers in the half and had 9 offense rebounds to Houstons’ 3.
Fortunately, even with the bad defense and mediocre offense that took place in the first half, Memphis trailed by only 9, 58-49. In the third quarter, Memphis slowly began to chip away the deficit until it shrunk to 4. From there, though, the Rockets jumped back out to a double digit lead, in part thanks to the offensive explosion by Sam Dekker and pitiful defensive sequences by the Grizzlies. The Rockets took advantage of all of Memphis’ mistakes, and players like Dekker really stepped up for Houston last night. Going into the fourth, the Rockets led the Grizzlies 91-72.
In the fourth quarter, it was all Houston Rockets. Memphis was never able to recover, although they did cut down the lead a few times during the middle of the quarter. However, every time Memphis threatened at all to make some kind of comeback, Houston went on a run to silence the Grizzlies. In addition, Memphis struggled from the free throw line last night, as they shot only 71.4% (20-28). Houston went on to crush Memphis, 119-95, in the FedExForum.
For Memphis, Marc Gasol racked up 32 points and 3 blocks. Mike Conley had 15 points and 6 assists.
Inconsistency Continues To Riddle Memphis
Yet again, we see how inconsistent this Memphis team can be. Last night, Memphis’ defense looked out of sorts, and their offense wasn’t much better. Houston appeared like the better team, and they appeared to be the only ones that were really ready to play when the game tipped off.
So should fans panic yet? No.
Sure, it’s concerning to see Memphis play at such inconsistent levels. They should have their identity figured out by now. On the other hand, it’s Coach Fizdale’s first season with Memphis, and players like Parsons are still adjusting after returning from injury. There’s no doubt that Memphis needs to figure out how to play at a higher level on a consistent basis, but it’s no time to panic.
In the NBA, it’s a short term memory sport. There’s 82 games. You lose one and play the next night. You lose a few, fans panic, but then win a couple games, and all feels well. I’m not ready to panic yet. The Grizzlies may or may not make a few moves as the trade deadline draws near. A backup point guard sure wouldn’t be out of the question. But what will Memphis be willing to give up? That’s a topic for another article.
For now, the Grizzlies have a few days off until Wednesday. The most concerning factor to me is Memphis’ defense. They’ve got to start communicating better on the defensive end. Players like Marc Gasol need to do a better job at protecting the paint. Letting their opponents score 118 points isn’t going to win the Grizzlies any games, that’s for sure.
We can only hope that a defeat like this one is the wake up call Memphis has needed.
"We got caught up in their game tonight," -Mike Conley— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 22, 2017
"I think we got lost...Not enough communication offensively...We kinda held our head too much," -Mike Conley— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 22, 2017
The Sam Dekker Show
The most surprising factor of last night’s Grizzlies loss was the impressive performance by Houston’s Sam Dekker. On the season, he’s averaging 6.9 PPG and 4.1 rebounds. Well, last night against the Grizzlies, he had 30 points. In the previous game, he’d had 17 pts, but before that hadn’t had a double digit scoring performance since December 26th.
Even when he got hot on the offensive end, it was astonishing to see the Grizzlies leaving him wide open to shoot threes. On the night, he had 6 of them.
Similar to Doug McDermott’s 31 point showing last week against Memphis, the Grizzlies have had role players going off for abnormally strong performances against them. On the season, McDermott averages 10 PPG.
It’s not crazy to see a role player go off offensively here and there, but it seems to happen more often to Memphis. It seems the Grizzlies are struggling to defend role players when they have the hot hand. James Harden still had 29 points himself, but that isn’t out of the ordinary for him. The Grizzlies really need to do better at containing role players when they start to get the hot hand offensively.
Memphis’ Poor Paint Defense
The main trouble the Grizzlies seemed to have last night was defending the paint, and just defending the Rockets in general was a struggle (clearly, as they allowed 118 points). The Grizzlies allowed the Rockets 44 points in the paint, and the Rockets had 13 second chance points. They beat the Grizzlies in both these categories, and it was appalling to see how easily Houston could penetrate the paint against Memphis’ defense.
It seemed that because the Grizzlies couldn’t get it going on the defensive end, their offense suffered. Oftentimes, when Memphis starts to defend well, their offense gets into a rhythm soon after.
The Grizzlies have allowed 5 of their last 6 opponents to score +100 points. Although the Grizzlies have played a little faster this season than in years past, their defense has been and should still be pretty elite. The last handful of performances, however, Memphis’ defense has struggled. As a result, the Grizzlies are 2-4 in their last 6 games.
"We became really hesitant on the coverage...That made us not trust what to do...It starts with the bigs communicating better," -Marc Gasol— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 22, 2017
Silver Lining: Chandler Parsons
One silver lining of last night’s disappointing performance was Chandler Parsons, who had a very solid showing. On the night, he had 12 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 22 minutes of play. Slowly, it seems that Parsons’ minute restriction is being loosened. He didn’t play Friday night so that he could rest and be available for Saturday night’s game. The ENTIRE Grizzlies roster had a negative plus minus rating last night, but Parsons had the best rating on the team (not counting players who played less than 5 minutes) with -2.
Now, Memphis faces another high caliber opponent in the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in the FedExForum.
"We were all over the place defensively tonight. We had no answer for the pick and roll." -Fizdale— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 22, 2017
"I think we're connected....I think we're just still trying to figure out who we are," -Fizdale.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 22, 2017
"Our minds were gone," -Coach Fizdale. ".. We got to be better, and tonight we just didn't have it."— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 22, 2017